Find Your Limiting Behaviors

by Michael on August 25, 2009 · 0 comments

Gentlemen, put your hard hats on.

Gentlemen, put your hard hats on. (Photo by Mads Boedker)

The primary mission of this blog is to help you recognize areas of your life that you’d like to fix or change, and help you change them.

What I do run into a lot, though, is the guy who doesn’t want to fix something despite the fact that it’s not getting him where he wants to go. Often that has to do with:

  • A ritual or habit
  • A hobby that, while exciting to him, is pure death to bring up outside the closed world of those who pursue it
  • A style of dress (or lack thereof)
  • Fear of the unknown

Maybe he enjoys playing World of Warcraft and talking about it with his buddies. He feels comfortable in sandals, a Billabong t-shirt and cargo shorts. He just can’t quit smoking or porn.

These are extreme examples. There are a number of smaller things that you can be doing that negatively impact your life in some way, from the way you (don’t) style your hair to that one annoying friend to a small nervous tic.

And That’s Okay

The first thing I want to tell you is that you have the right to do whatever you want, as long as you’re not (even potentially) hurting anybody. You have the right to enjoy your life, and if these things help you to enjoy your life, good on ya.

And there are times when I just want to walk around in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt (I’ll never appear shirtless if God forbid I make a cameo on COPS) and times when I want to eat some KFC (mmm, KFC…).


What I want you to think about is this: do you want something better? Would you like a great girlfriend or wife? Do you want to have a fun circle of friends, or travel the world and introduce yourself to new cultures, or make more money? Do you want to feel healthier and give yourself the chance to live longer?

If the answer is no, party on.

If the answer is yes, it’s time to look at which of your behaviors is preventing you from reaching that next level, and changing that behavior.

Make a List

It’s time to take stock. Get a sheet of paper and list the issues you know you have. Do you smoke? Drink to excess? Procrastinate? Get it down in black and white.

Then look at the things you wish you could do but don’t do. Why not? What are the obstacles you see standing in the way of achieving your goals? (Hint: it might be a good idea to start by writing out the goals.)

If you’re like a lot of guys, you’ll have a list of obstacles that are your issues, and a list that you believe are issues with others. For example, you can’t be a rock star because a record company would never give you the time of day. (Imagine if Beck had that kind of limiting belief when he was doodling in his home studio?) Or you can’t get a girl because they’re all too superficial. Or you can’t get ahead in your career because your boss is evil.

Now take all of those issues you believe are others’ issues, and think of a way that they might be your issues. Going back to our examples, you can’t be a rock star because you never play your music in public. You can’t get a girl because you aren’t looking in the places where women might appreciate your brains, or because you need to remove your monobrow. You can’t get ahead in your career because you don’t make time to search for a better job, or because you need a mentor.

Change is Hard…

Psychologists know that our behaviors are based on pleasure and pain – quite often, the avoidance of pain. Smoking, for example, is a crutch at best: something in your life is causing you to need that relaxation you get in your “smoke break.” Many people find that when they quit smoking they turn to food – another crutch.

The real answer here is to fix the root of the problem: the stress that’s causing you to need that smoke. Or to crave that drink. Or to procrastinate.

I’m not going to pretend I can help you solve all your root problems here. I still have my own to work on. You may even need to seek counseling for deep issues like abuse or grief. What I really want you to do right now is look at yourself and take stock of what is holding you back.

…But the First Step is Easy

Just understanding what you can do to reach higher in your life — and understanding the cost of limiting behaviors — may be the spark you need to lose some of those behaviors and start achieving more than you’ve imagined.

So make your list, be honest, and then you can consider an action plan. This can be the first step in a new, incredible journey. Take it.

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